Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Where Do Old Hippies Go?

The crispness of the air shot up my nostrils like an errant Neti Pot blast, paralyzing them for an instant as I hurried out of my hotel room. Hurry, I thought. The sun's already moving! After hustling the few steps down to the crunchy sand, I aimed my camera at the warming sky.


The unfolding grandeur of the first rays mesmerized me. "Ain't it gorgeous?" a voice croaked from behind, startling me. I turned and could just make out an older woman with long gray hair sitting in a beach chair, smoking a cigarette. "I'll never get tired of seeing it, " she said in her husky, smoke coated voice. I was chilled in my yoga pants and sweat shirt. I couldn't figure out how she was not shivering in her bikini top and cut off denim shorts.

"It really is a thing of beauty," I replied as I took this shot.


The nascent light revealed more of her features. In addition to her gray hair, the nut brown color of her skin bespoke a life lived in the sun. Her bikini top was more a hammock for its tired occupants than a support.

"I love to start my days like this. Just me, my cigs, and the sun. Makes me feel like I'm starting all over, too, just like the sun does everyday."

I nodded in agreement as I set up for the third photo.


She continued. "When I was a teenager, back in the 60's, we didn't trust anything that looked old." She took a long drag on her cigarette as I tried to move away from the exhalation. "Sheesh. We thought we knew it all then. They called us hippies, and a lot of other names that weren't very nice. We just wanted to find truth. Thought we could save the world, that we had all the answers."

I nodded to show her I was still listening while I maneuvered for my next picture. The heavenly volcanoes of the sun were about to pour their molten light all over the sky.


"We thought we knew it all, but we didn't. And I just have to kind of laugh at each new generation who thinks they know it all." She inhaled deeply as she took another puff.

"I think we all go through that, you know, where we think we know it all better than the generation before us," I commented.

She cackled and ended with a dry, rattling cough. "Yep. Old age. You never think it's going to catch you, but when it does, it surprises you with the wisdom it brings. Hey, do you know where old hippies go to die?"

I stopped for a minute as she continued. "We come here to the beach and ride those beautiful sun rays right up to the sky!"






62 comments:

  1. I don't know what I am, but I love, love the beach. It just makes you feel so loved by God to see His magnificence in something so big, and how truly small we are.

    (did that even make sense?)

    SO glad this was what your mornings were last week.
    (I still missed you)

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    1. Jamie: You're so sweet! I really, really missed you all. And I agree- there's just something about those waves and the beach that turns my thoughts towards God. You can't miss Him out there! And, you make perfect sense!

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  2. Hello hello hello, dear Shelly! These sunrise pictures are so pretty. I'm glad you got up in time to race out there and capture them.

    Old hippie woman speakum the truth. Part of being young is to think that your stuff is the right stuff and that the old folks over 30 just don't get it. The boomer generation was idealistic and thought it was possible to change the world one flower at a time. As I wrote in a recent post I am encountering some modern young people who seem filled with that same dreamy idealism. Who knows what will come of it?

    I'm sure the woman with leathery skin and a smoker's cough realizes that her unhealthy habits might soon have her climbing the stairway to heaven; yet I know people like her and they don't care. They are resigned to it. They are determined to live it their way and take the consequences.

    ...I got my own life to live
    I'm the one that's going to die when it's time for me to die
    
So let me live my life
    
The way I want to

    Jimi Hendrix "If 6 Was 9"

    Welcome home, dear friend Shelly, and thanks again for being there for me even when it's highly inconvenient. That's special.

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    1. Shady: Good old Jimi Hendrix- his life ended way too young. I do feel bad for people like that woman, who've obviously lived such unhealthy lives, but I guess you can't tell someone what they ought to do and have them truly listen to you. I'm glad I changed my habits while there's still time to make a difference in my life.

      I missed all of you while I was away- thank you for the welcome back! It means a lot!

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  3. Great pictures, a stunning mix of grey and scarlett. I think the old hippie knows what she's talking about.

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    1. Stephen: My camera didn't even do justice to the spectrum of colors that were out there. Wow- I could have looked at it all day.

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  4. Ahh dear Shelly, how i've missed your wonderful posts! Such humor and angst today! I loved your description of the occupants in the bikini top if I sadly might somewhat resemble them. That's another thing old age brings...a type of 'gravity' to your life not appreciated nor desired!
    Gorgeous photography...thanks for sharing!
    Welcome back dear one, welcome back!
    Hugs~

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    1. Sush: I missed you my friend, and was so happy to see your Mardi Gras post today! I was trying to think of a diplomatic way to describe what they looked like, and that was the nicest way I could think to do it and still do justice to what it was. I guess some things don't bother some folks!

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  5. I think that at a later time of day I may have seen that lady and the "tired occupants" swaying along the beach. Or there may be many old hippies. We missed you, but you were blessed with scenes such as these! Thanks for sharing them, and welcome back.

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    1. vanilla: It could very well have been her! Ha! Oh, the beach was gorgeous. Really, God's handiwork was on full display. Thanks for the welcome back!

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  6. Hey guess what I know the answer it's "Nimbin" that's where old hippies go to die.......http://nimbinaustralia.com

    Love the photos of the sunrise how beautiful and lovely thank you for sharing I have never seen a sunrise it is something I would love to do before I die...........

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    1. Jo-Anne: That site on Nimbin is so interesting! I'm glad you shared it with me as I hadn't heard of it. You learn something new each day! And a beautiful sunrise is definitely something everyone should get to see.

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  7. Great story and awesome pictures. Linda & I love to be as close to the beach as we can so that we can hear the waves all during the night through a screened window or door. We love that sound or the sound of a stream running by a cabin in the mountains. Either way it is God's creation that gives us peace.

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    1. Odie: Oh, the sound of those waves at night is the most soothing, yet powerful sound I think I've ever heard. I love the rhythm of the waves. And yes, my friend, it is in God's creation that we find our peace.

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  8. Heavenly volcanoes of the sun - - - wow, how beautiful you write! thanks for sharing. You are a great photographer, and a great companion to even people you don't know. I am glad that there are people like you in this world.

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    1. Munir: You are so sweet- thank you! And I am glad, my friend, there are people like you in this world.

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  9. If you ask The Boy, he'll tell you I'm a hippie. But I'm not.

    :-)

    I think I'd like that old broad.

    Beautiful imagery here, Shell. I think your writing has changed recently -- do you think so??

    Pearl

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  10. Pearl: In me, I think there's some hippie, too. Interesting what you noticed. I've been pushing to move away from my journalism background and kind of open up a little more. Thank you for noticing!

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  11. What a great story, Shelley! And I think the reason these stories keep happening to you is because you're so open to people around you. Without truly knowing you, I think that's what I like best about you. I've always admired people who can instantly put others at ease - and gather some great stories while they're exercising their talent!

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    1. Karen: You are so kind! My brother always used to tell me I was just plain nosy when I tried to explain journalistic curiousity to him. I think being nosy makes for a much more interesting life! :)

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  12. pretty cool story! i bet she IS a fun and interesting story!! The pictures are beautiful!

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    1. momto8: I wish I could have talked with her longer. She looked like she'd lived a lot of life.

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  13. She sounds like an interesting woman. I wonder if she ever lived in one of those communes in the country? The photographs are beautiful. I was 16 during the hippie movement and wanted to be one, but it was pretty hard when your parents were always telling you what to do! lol Oh, how I wanted to run away and live with a bunch of hippies in San Francisco. Now, I am glad I didn't.

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    1. Belle: I would have enjoyed getting to talk with her more and find out more about her life. I, too, can remember some things I wanted to do at 16 that would have been life altering and didn't do because of my parents. I'm glad you didn't join them and that I had those restraints on me, too!

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  14. I never heard about hippies .Loved reading it,Shelly

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    1. izdiher: They were the "flower children" of the 60's and now most of them are in their sixties. Thank you!

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  15. Hi Shelly! Yay! Welcome back!!!

    Heavenly volcanoes of the sun...now that is pure magic!

    I love the idea that death, or the passing of our life into eternal life, would be like riding on rays of sunlight. I'm so happy that you were able to have a retreat at the beach. I'm sure you would have preferred to soak up that wonderful sky in undisturbed silence. But then you are a compassionate person and wait patiently and listen to people, young and old. I might have said something to cut off the conversation and kept on walking, then missed the wisdom and the idea of a peaceful, happy (hippie) way to die.

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    1. Jenny: Thank you- I missed being here and reading all of y'all's wonderful postings! The beach was the perfect place to be, and I'm so glad it was there. She really was an interesting woman, and now, I wish I'd been able to talk with her a little more. People are always so full of great stories. I hope you all are still enjoying your snow!

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  16. Your photos took my breath away!

    I love Shady's comment and I think what he said was so right on that I won't bother saying more than "Ditto what he said!"

    Glad to have you back in blogville. :)

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    1. Jenn June: It is times like this I wish I had a better camera because the colors were absolutely stunning. And, thank you! It's great to be back-

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  17. Dearest Shelley,
    OH, welcome back!!! And what a story, my friend☆☆☆
    Of course, I have no idea about what sort of people "hippies" are.
    I wish to check it later.
    But, you tried to tell us that she was saying they have pure mind to admire the nature you showed us with your pictures!!!
    Also what a poet you are,
    "The nascent light revealed more of her features. In addition to her gray hair, the nut brown color of her skin bespoke a life lived in the sun"
    I was SO moved by this phrase, I love to read your beautiful story♡♡♡
    Love you always, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. Miyako: Hello, dear friend! Hippies were the young people in the 1960's who rebelled against society's norms and usually had long hair, their own style of dress, etc. I was born in the 1960's, so maybe someone else out here can help me with a better definition of them.

      And thank you, my friend- you are always so kind!

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  18. I could imagine that lady, the draw on the cigarette and the smoke..Her tired skin and confusion on where time had gone.. I am probably her age and a little bit hippy, but not a smoker, yet still a dreamer.. Where does life go? Into the sunset..and isn't it a beautiful one. Heaven will one day be even more lovely.

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    1. Crystal Mary: I often try to imagine the glory of heaven and know I can never even get close to it. I think I will spend eternity in absolute awe at all of it.

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  19. Beautiful pics! I hope your trip wasn't TOO hard on you. :) Glad you're back!

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    1. Nancy: Well, it was hard, but someone had to do it! Thanks- it's great to be back!

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  20. I was a conservative military guy in the 60s and 70s and had no use for hippies. Then as I aged I found I actually had some hippie tendencies myself. Someone made me smoke some weed and I started seein' things differently (yes---I DID inhale). Ha.

    While I'm still no hippie, I have moved to the left somewhat. But I have always seen the beauty and wonder in a sunrise and sunset. In fact, I see beauty in lots o' things I didn't used to...

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    1. Clint: I find that as I've aged, I've loosened up on some things, and tightened up on others. And, I totally agree with you about finding beauty, especially in simple things. I'm grateful for that.

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  21. Where do old hippies go? They go to bed earlier! :-) Another great post and the photos were out of this world, Shelly. Thank goodness I never was a smoker. I just asked Clint if he ever had a desire to be a beach bum. He said "yes" and he thought probaby most of us wanted to be this at one time. I dreamed of strolling on the beach as the bikini-clad Bain de Soleil girl in the commercial. (not proud of it now, thinking back of winning a "suntan" contest ... genes helped me a little) Sorry I degressed, I love talking to people and hearing their "stories". Just last night Clint and I were listening to gospel music and your story reminds me a song last night sung by Debra Talley:

    "Thinkin' 'Bout Home".

    A penny for your thoughts, I said to the old man
    As he sat there on the park bench, all alone
    With silver hair, and wrinkled brow, eyes gleamin'
    He smiled and said, "Just thinkin' 'bout my home"

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  22. Cindy: That made me laugh! Oh, the things we didn't know about the sun back in the day. I'm thankful I quit frying myself while I was in my early 20's, but I still wish I wouldn't have done it at all. My husband and I both have talked about moving to the beach someday when we're both retired.

    I know that song and love it! It really fits that woman on the beach, too.

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  23. "more a hammock for its tired occupants than a support" - talk about descriptive, you nailed it!
    Beautiful photos. Amazing beauty.

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    1. Sweet Tea: It was so absolutely gorgeous that the pics don't even do it justice. I've got it etched in my head for a very long time.

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  24. "Her bikini top was more a hammock for its tired occupants than a support."

    Genius!

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    1. Missed Periods: Poor thing. I'm of the opinion that if you can't at least halfway rock a bikini top, you shouln't sport it in public, but she obviously felt differently...

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  25. Haha, Orchid again here.
    I wanted to add one thing.
    I forget to write that it would be lovely if I could ride those beautiful sun rays to be my departed love ones when my time comes!!!
    Love you always from east, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. Miyako: What a good friend you are to check back! Thank you, dear friend. Yes, that would be lovely! Hope your day is wonderful!

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  26. Awesome post Shelly! Beautiful captures of the evening Sun uniting with the waters below: Hammocks now that is funny! I visioned it also ....giggling now ....I at one time fancied the thought of being a beach bumette...I could see a little haystack like dwelling, bananas and pineapples to eat and of course I would stay young forever to enjoy these fresh fruits and to run as Bo Derrick on the shoreline ....LOL I laugh now but oh the burn in my heart was for "freedom" more than anything! Thanks for the trip back into the "forgotten treasure box" within my heart's memories! Hugs

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    1. Rhonda: It was so lovely there on the beach! I would love to live there, just not in hurricane season. I remember Bo Derrick- I think many of us had ideas of living like her then!

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  27. It's so cool to connect with someone who you might never talk to on a normal day. What gorgeous color!

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  28. Lydia: That's one of the things I love about blogging!

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  29. Wow I am from the era and was a "hippie" lol...seems like eons ago..I loved the conversation thanks for sharing..just lovely...

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    1. DaCraftyLady Debb: I was born in the 60's and still have some vivid memories of the style of dress, the protests, etc. Thank youb for stopping by!

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  30. Great story. Great shots, too.

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  31. Those pictures are GORGEOUS!! I also loved hearing the hippie's perspective. Your pictures remind me of my 3 y/o son. When it is evening and the sun is setting in the west, he'll look over to it and say, "Hey, Mom. Look! It's morning time!" When he sees the sun low in the sky, east or west, it's always morning time to him.

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  32. Kelley: That is so cute! And really, it is hard to tell sometimes if you aren't thinking direction if the sun is coming or going.

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  33. Welcome back, and I'm sorry I'm late in saying it! What gorgeous photos of the sunrise - I think it's great that that old lady (although I suspect she was about my age , as I was a teenager in the 60's!) could sit on the beach to watch the sunrise each day . Each generation thinks that it's going to change the world, and I guess that will always be the case.

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    1. Thisisme: Thank you, my friend, for stopping by, even with your internet problems! She seemed older than she was, I think, because of the smoking and all her time in the sun. You, my friend, are not old at all!

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    2. Shelly - you say the nicest things. Hee Hee!

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